Unitary Patent Information Series (Article 4) – Translation arrangements

03 September 2013

Translation arrangements

The third article in our Unitary Patent Information series looks at the translation arrangements :

The long term intention is to use machine translation to provide all translations of Unitary Patents that may be required. However, machine translation technology is not yet good enough for this, so during a transitional period patentees will need to file a full translation of the UP into one other language. The translation requirements during and after the transitional period are set out by the TA Regulation.

After the transitional period, no translation will be required for obtaining a UP other than the translation of the claims into the two other official EPO languages which is currently (and will continue to be) required in order for a European Patent to proceed to grant. A translation will, however, need to be obtained in the event of a dispute relating to an alleged infringement of the UP (i.e. if the patent proprietor initiates legal steps on the basis of his allegedly infringed UP).

In such a situation the patent proprietor must provide (at his cost) a full translation of the UP into an official language of either the participating state in which the alleged infringement took place, or the state in which the alleged infringer is domiciled, with the choice of language being up to the alleged infringer. If subsequent legal proceedings take place in a different language, then a full translation of the UP into the language of the proceedings will also need to be provided.

The TA Regulation also provides for a compensation scheme for translation costs for applicants who file a patent application at the EPO in one of the official languages of the European Union other than English, French or German.

During the transitional period, which will begin when the whole UP package comes into force and will last for at least 6 and possibly as long as 12 years, translations will be required in order to obtain a UP. During this period the Request to have a granted EP patent validated as a UP must be accompanied by either:

(a) a full translation of the specification of the European patent into English, if the language of the proceedings is French or German; or

(b) a full translation of the specification of the European patent into any other official language of the European Union, if the language of the proceedings is English.

The text of such translations will have no legal effect and will be for information purposes only, but machine translations will not be permitted for this purpose.

The duration of the transitional period will depend on how quickly the quality of the EPO's machine translation program improves. This is being developed together with Google, and is being trained using millions of official, human-translated patent documents. Once the translation program is able to provide high quality translations into all official EU languages, the transitional period will be terminated and no translation will be required with the UP Request.

The TA Regulation was approved on 11 December, but it will not become effective until the UPC Agreement enters into force.

For further information or should you have any queries, please contact one of our experts from the panel on the right hand side of the page.

The next article in the series will look at the long and complex transition period of the Unitary Patent.

Our Experts
David O'Connell
David O'Connell
Location: Bristol (UK) The Netherlands (NL)
Robert Margue
Robert Margue
Location: Munich (Germany)

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